Minnetonka Heights Community Program (supervised by the Ridgedale YMCA) is a unique, apartment-based initiative that’s been helping kids and families from low-income backgrounds for more than a decade. The fact that most come from other countries—including Afghanistan, Somalia, Russia, Iran, and China—makes it a stimulating mix of cultures and languages.

“We’re a mini-United Nations,” says Joanne Robinson, Minnetonka Heights Program Director. “We help the children in school, and we help families find community resources.”

This summer, for scores of kids who otherwise would be sitting in front of apartment TVs, Minnetonka Heights became an amazing LEARNING place. Students (from grades 1-6) saw the play “Aladdin, Jr.” at the Stages Theater in Hopkins (where they met “Jabar,” one of the main characters who, in real life, also happens to be a Blaisdell Y lifeguard!), visited the local library to read and get books, enjoyed a two-hour boat tour to learn more about Lake Minnetonka, went on nature hikes, went swimming at the Ridgedale Y, tried yoga, cheered for the Twins at Target Field, and did a “Friendship Class” in Deephaven.

“Summer is a wonderful time for learning,” says Joanne. “We’re so thankful for our volunteers and partners who help make this possible. The kids love it, and it’s so important for them as they head back to school in a few weeks. All of this makes a difference!”

To learn more about YMCA summer programs, contact Stephanie Thomas, YMCA Director of School Age Programs, via email. To learn more about Ridgedale YMCA/Minnetonka Heights Community Program, contact Joanne Robinson.